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Does cherry juice cause loose bowels?

Cherry juice has become a popular health drink in recent years due to its potential health benefits. Some research suggests that compounds found in cherries, such as anthocyanins and quercetin, may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, some people have reported experiencing digestive issues like loose stools after drinking cherry juice.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether there is any link between drinking cherry juice and loose bowel movements.

What is Cherry Juice?

Cherry juice is made by squeezing or blending cherries, usually tart cherries, to extract their liquid. It can be consumed in either sweetened or unsweetened forms. Cherry juice contains water, natural sugars, and small amounts of protein, fat, and fiber from the cherry fruit.

The type of cherry affects the nutrient content. According to the USDA, one cup (240ml) of tart cherry juice provides:

  • 132 calories
  • 0.5 g protein
  • 0.2 g fat
  • 32.2 g carbohydrates
  • 2.1 g fiber
  • 29.9 g natural sugar
  • 32 mg vitamin C (43% DV)
  • 292 mg potassium (8% DV)

Compared to sweet cherry juice, tart cherry juice is lower in sugar and calories but higher in certain nutrients like vitamin C. Tart cherry juice also contains various plant compounds that may be responsible for its purported health benefits.

Potential Active Compounds in Cherry Juice

Tart and sweet cherries contain a variety of beneficial plant compounds, including:

  • Anthocyanins: Pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Quercetin: A flavonoid that may reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Caffeic acid: An antioxidant that may inhibit tumor and cancer cell growth.
  • Ellagic acid: An antioxidant that may have anticancer effects.
  • Melatonin: A hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

Some of these compounds, especially the anthocyanins, exist at high concentrations in tart cherry varieties like Montmorency cherries. This is why tart cherry juice often provides more potent health benefits.

Potential Health Benefits of Cherry Juice

Here is a quick rundown of some of the potential health benefits associated with drinking cherry juice regularly:

  • Reduces inflammation: The anthocyanins in cherry juice possess anti-inflammatory abilities that may decrease pain and swelling.
  • Lowers oxidative stress: Cherry juice is rich in antioxidants that can help protect your cells against damage from harmful free radicals.
  • Improves arthritis symptoms: Cherry juice may reduce inflammatory markers like nitric oxide and interleukin-6 in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Boosts workout recovery: Consuming tart cherry juice before and after exercise may reduce muscle damage and soreness.
  • Supports heart health: Compounds in cherry juice may decrease LDL cholesterol oxidation and lower blood pressure.
  • Promotes sleep: Cherry juice provides melatonin, which can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve sleep quality.

That said, more research is still needed to confirm some of these potential health benefits in humans.

Cherry Juice and Digestive Issues

There are anecdotal reports from people claiming that drinking cherry juice causes loose stools or diarrhea. However, there is limited scientific evidence directly linking cherry juice to laxative effects.

That said, there are a few reasons why cherry juice may contribute to bowel issues for some people:

1. Fructose content

Cherry juice naturally contains significant amounts of fructose, a fruit sugar that is difficult for some people to properly absorb. Consuming high-fructose beverages on an empty stomach can draw extra water into the intestine and colon, resulting in loose stools.

Those with fructose malabsorption problems are at the greatest risk for digestive issues from fruit-juice-induced diarrhea. For most healthy people, though, the fructose in 4-8 ounces (120-240 ml) of cherry juice is tolerable.

2. Sorbitol content

Tart cherries contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can be used as a sweetener in some cherry juice products. Consuming too much sorbitol can have an osmotic effect, causing diarrhea or loose bowels when it reaches the large intestine undigested.

The sorbitol content varies significantly depending on the product. 100% pure, unsweetened cherry juice has very little sorbitol, while juice concentrates and juice cocktail blends tend to have more added as an artificial sweetener.

3. Fiber content

Cherries have a moderate amount of fiber, providing about 2 grams per cup of juice. Suddenly increasing your fiber intake can boost digestive activity and provoke loose stools in sensitive individuals.

This effect is usually temporary as your body adjusts to the extra fiber. However, some people may need to limit their portion sizes or gradually increase intake when adding cherry juice to their diet.

4. High antioxidant content

Cherry juice is packed with antioxidants, including potent anthocyanins that give tart cherries their signature color. Some experts speculate that this high antioxidant content could have a laxative effect by stimulating bile production and bowel motility.

However, clinical studies are needed to confirm if antioxidants actually directly impact digestive function and stool consistency.

5. Allergic reactions

Although rare, some individuals may have food allergies or sensitivities to compounds found in cherries. This could involve pollen-related oral allergy syndrome or reactions to proteins in the cherry fruit.

Allergic reactions affecting the digestive tract can sometimes cause diarrhea and stomach pain after consuming trigger foods.

Who is Most At Risk for Cherry Juice-Induced Diarrhea?

Based on the available evidence, the people most susceptible to loose stools from drinking cherry juice include:

  • Those with fructose malabsorption
  • Individuals sensitive to high FODMAP foods
  • People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Those who suddenly increase their fruit juice or sorbitol intake
  • Individuals with an allergy or intolerance to cherries

If you have a sensitive stomach or digestion issues, introducing cherry juice slowly and limiting your portions may help minimize adverse effects.

Tips to Prevent Cherry Juice Diarrhea

Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of diarrhea or loose stools if drinking cherry juice:

  • Start with a small 4-6 oz serving and gradually increase the amount.
  • Avoid drinking cherry juice on an empty stomach, especially if it’s highly concentrated.
  • Drink cherry juice with meals to slow absorption.
  • Dilute cherry juice with water or carbonated water.
  • Opt for unsweetened 100% cherry juice when possible.
  • Stick to eating whole cherries instead of juice if you have IBS or digestion issues.
  • Look for low-FODMAP certified cherry juice if you are fructose or sorbitol intolerant.

Keep in mind that the impacts are dose-dependent, and even those without existing conditions may get loose stools in rare cases from drinking too much cherry juice. Moderation is key.

The Bottom Line

Cherry juice contains beneficial antioxidants and nutrients that may provide certain health advantages. However, its high fructose, sorbitol, and fiber content can contribute to loose stools or diarrhea in sensitive individuals if too much is consumed.

Those with digestive disorders like IBS seem most prone to cherry juice-induced bowel issues. That said, most healthy people can tolerate moderate 4-8 oz servings, especially when consumed with meals.

Drinking cherry juice in moderation and limiting sudden increases in intake can help prevent adverse digestive effects. As with most foods, how your body reacts varies individually.

Overall, more research is still needed on the specific digestive effects of compounds in cherry juice. But for most people, incorporating a small glass of cherry juice into a healthy diet should not cause problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does cherry juice cause diarrhea?

Cherry juice contains compounds like fructose, sorbitol, fiber, and antioxidants that may draw extra fluid into the bowels or stimulate digestive activity in susceptible individuals. It’s mainly an issue if you have an existing condition or drink too much at once.

Is dark cherry juice good for you?

Yes, dark tart cherry juice provides beneficial plant compounds like anthocyanins. However, it also has more sugar and sorbitol than sweet cherry varieties, so portion sizes should be moderated, especially if you have digestion issues.

Does cherry juice make you poop?

Cherry juice can make some people have loose stools or diarrhea. Its impacts on bowel movements vary by individual. Those with IBS seem most prone to laxative effects from compounds found in cherry juice.

Why does juice make you poop?

Fruit juices contain sugars, fiber, and compounds that can pull water into your colon and stimulate bowel activity. They lack the pulp of whole fruits which slows digestion. This is why juice may cause looser stools or diarrhea, especially in larger amounts.

Is cherry juice acidic?

Yes, cherry juice has a low pH around 2.5-3.5, giving it acidic properties. This acidity comes from organic acids like malic acid and can contribute to heartburn in some people, especially in concentrated cherry juice shots.

The Bottom Line

In moderation, cherry juice can be part of a healthy diet and provide nutritional benefits from compounds like antioxidants. However, its fructose, sorbitol, fiber, and antioxidant contents may contribute to digestive issues like diarrhea or loose stools in sensitive individuals or when consumed in excess.

Drinking small amounts of cherry juice diluted and with meals is less likely to cause problems. Those with pre-existing bowel disorders like IBS seem most susceptible to adverse effects. More research is still needed on the specific impacts cherry juice compounds have on digestion.